Anisotremus virginicus

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The Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) is also known as Atlantic Porkfish and Paragrate grunt.

In addition to being kept in aquariums, this species is also an appreciated game fish and marketed fresh as food. Reports of ciguatera poisoning exist.

Anisotremus virginicus has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

Porkfish is found in the Western Atlantic. Its range stretches from Florida in the USA, through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and down to Brazil.

Porkfish is found over reefs and rocky bottoms in inshore waters. Its depth range is 2-20 meters / 6-65 feet. This is a nocturnal species that feeds during the night. Just like the other grunts, it can produce a grunting sound by rubbing its teeth together.  

In the wild, the Porkfish is known to form large schools and it has been seen swimming with White grunts (Haemulon plumierii).

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Porkfish was 40.6 cm / 16 in.

The body is decorated with yellow and silvery blue stripes while the fins are yellow. There are two black bars: one proceeds diagonally from the nape through the eye to the mouth, while the other originates at the dorsal fin based and runs fairly vertically to the base of the pectoral fin. This species is deep bodied, the snout is blunt and the lips are thick.  

Juvenile specimens are without bars and are instead adorned with a large dark blotch close to the base of the caudal fin. You can also see two black stripes running horizontally through mid-body and back. The head is of a brilliant yellow shade.  

Porkfish care

It is not advisable to house Porkfish is an aquarium smaller than 275 litres / 72 gallons. This species is ideally kept in schools and the fishes must have plenty of open space to swim around in. Also include suitable caves and/or ledges as hiding spots.

The recommended water temperature when keeping Porkfish is 72-78º F / 22-25.5º C. The specific gravity should be kept in the 1.020-1.025 range and the pH-value at 8.1-8.4.   

The peaceful Porkfish should not be housed with aggressive species. It is not considered reef compatible since it is fond of eating crabs, shrimps, snails and starfish.

Feeding Porkfish

In the wild, the nocturnal Porkfish feeds chiefly on molluscs, annelids, echinoderms and crustaceans. It is however an omnivore and needs certain amounts of green food in their diet as well. Juveniles eat parasites that they remove from larger fishes.

In the aquarium, you can feed your Porkfish meaty foods like chopped marine animals (shrimps, clams, fish etcetera) combined with vegetables and algae based foods.

Breeding Porkfish

Porkfish is an egg-laying species. It has been successfully bred in captivity, but very little is known about its spawning habits.


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